Letter to the Editor - It’s true: Central Park skatepark is a major draw

Submitted by Scott Ahler
Crookston Times

    In regards to the article, "Viewpoint: Central Park Skatepark is one of the most successful in region" submitted by Todd Bratrud, I'd like to say I support all the points he makes regarding the history and value of the skatepark located at Central Park.

    I'm a graphic designer and father living in Grand Forks, and have frequented the skatepark (known as 'The Swamp') and seen it undergo many changes since 2001. From its beginnings when it was merely a concrete slab with a block mimicking a gas pump island, skateboarders have traveled from Grand Forks and Fargo to skate it, largely due to its unique location and atmosphere (trees, shade, near water!). Those unique qualities, along with a sense of ownership by the skaters who use it, continue to draw people from all over, today. It's not uncommon for me to drive from Grand Forks multiple times a week to skateboard there, and I'm not alone. A number of others will make that same trip up to 3-5 times a week, and for some people, it's the only place they skateboard. Additionally, I have numerous friends from Fargo-Moorhead and even the Minneapolis area who'll visit the park 1-3 times a year. When we come to the skatepark, we'll usually get gas, grab a snack, maybe get a drink after skating (for those of us of-age), and even get groceries or do some shopping. This is not to mention the many local kids and adults of Crookston who use the skatepark on a daily basis. I'm not speaking only for myself when I say that skating there in 2020/21 during the pandemic--at an outdoor location, able to see friends but at a distance--was a lifesaver. The impact of The Swamp is also multi-generational, since it's been a regional skateboarding fixture for such a long time. My daughter and her friends skateboard, and will go there on their own almost weekly.

    What the hope for a new RV park represents--bringing in visitors, and stimulating the community and the economy of Crookston--is already happening with the Central Park skatepark. The city should do right by the skaters, local and visiting, who've made the skatepark a home-away-from-home, and work to find a new location to make a fresh start.

Scott Ahler

Grand Forks, North Dakota